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Government and technology leaders discuss cybersecurity challenges at the 2019 Forcepoint Cybersecurity Leadership Forum

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Wednesday, Apr 10, 2019

Last week we held our Forcepoint Cybersecurity Leadership Forum, co-produced with Cyberscoop, at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City. More than 600 attendees packed themselves into the conference center to hear from some of the biggest government policy and cybersecurity decision makers and influencers across the U.S. Government.

Throughout the day, agencies shared stories on how digital transformation has forever changed how our government operates. That for data to ensure mission success, it needs to be able to flow freely, and be protected everywhere, all the time. In fact, the sentiment was that we need to move faster: “We need to move at machine speed with information sharing,” Dave Mihelcic, Consultant, DMMI, LLC & Former CTO, DISA suggested. Tonya Ugoretz, Deputy Assistant Director, Cyber Division, FBI said because the FBI has reimagined their organizations for better collaboration, they are getting more indictments.   

Protecting data in this new era was the main topic of the day, as every agency holds critical data that must be shared responsibly. But in a world where user and data interactions are incredibly distributed, diverse, and dynamic, traditional security architectures are breaking. How to secure the data remains a major pain point across agencies. Maj. Gen. Garrett Yee shared how cybersecurity should not inhibit mission success, but ineffective data practices are putting data at risk. “The pain you feel is weakness leaving your network” is his mantra, as people often complain about cyber controls. Dave Mihelcic shared the alarming statistic that it only takes 19 minutes from a breach to exfiltrate data and 6 minutes to compromise a system on the network that is vulnerable from a patch. In fact, Forcepoint CEO Matt Moynahan told the audience that although over $1 trillion dollars have been spent on cybersecurity, attackers currently have a 95% success rate. 

And the stakes are high for our Federal government, as Mark Kelton, Director, MEK & Associates, LLC (former Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service for Counterintelligence, CIA) explained. “Today’s war has changed. National security is inexplicitly linked to our power grid, economic strength and industrial strengths. It is absolutely critical to protect these sectors from foreign attack.”

Among the topics discussed throughout the day, there were many areas of suggested innovation, including:

1. Greater collaboration is important to effectively solve cybersecurity challenges

An important theme from the day was the impressive collaborations happening across agencies as they rethink cybersecurity to bring together agencies and industry to collaborate on cyber security challenges. Many examples across agencies were shared on how key information will come from a collective defense, how no one sector can be successful on its own, and that greater collaboration will enable this.

2. ​Trust and users must be at the center of your design thinking

Ensuring trusted interactions with employees, partners, and vendors remains a growing priority and challenge for Federal CxOs. Rethinking trust of users is critical to the conversation as we think about what lies ahead for Federal cybersecurity. The cybersecurity revolution will continue to be led by people, it will be driven by enabling their innovation, and therefore agencies must focus on the re-establishment of trust at the core of everything they do.

3. Tips for developing a more effective cyber workforce

Many agencies are struggling to find the right people to fulfill key cybersecurity roles. We heard from several agencies that they plan to recruit and develop diverse cybersecurity talent, especially in this environment where cybersecurity is forecasted to have a deficit of over 2 million people in 2019 and our federal government struggles to be competitive with industry.  Beyond the obvious need for more competitive wages, greater flexibility, and increased recruitment, many suggestions were made throughout the day for agencies to get ahead of this problem, including the need for diversity in cyber, the need for greater training across all roles in an organization, and ideas to lower the intimidation factor for new recruits to the field who may bring unique skillsets. 

Thank you to everyone who helped contribute to this event and shared insights, including the roster of government, defense and industry thought leaders and Forcepoint executives delivering presentations, panel discussions, fireside chats, and breakout sessions throughout the day. 

We are delighted that Forcepoint was once again able to bring together so many great speakers to dig into all the evolving and emerging cybersecurity challenges happening across government. We are also pleased to have raised more than $800 in donations for Freedom Service Dogs of America ( @FreedomSvcDogs) as part of the day, and were able to increase awareness and support for service members coping with PTSD.  

See the full agenda here and check out additional highlights from the day on Twitter via the #ForcepointCLF hashtag.  If you want to see more from our great speakers, you can also subscribe to To The Point Cybersecurity podcast, where many of our speakers were able to sit down at the event to record podcasts that we will be airing in upcoming episodes.

This event continues to grow and get better every year and we look forward to seeing everyone again next year.

About the Author

Sean Berg

Sean Berg

Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Governments and Critical Infrastructure

Sean Berg is the senior vice president and general manager for Forcepoint's global governments and critical infrastructure business, carrying its P&L responsibility and leading the growth strategy. He is expanding Forcepoint's leadership in the cross domain government security markets and...